At least six civilians killed as Yemen rebels shell Taez city

Children and women among dead and injured as Houthis target residential area.

Aden // At least six civilians were killed and another 16 injured in rebel shelling of a residential area of Taez city since Thursday, Yemeni health officials said.

“Hospitals received six bodies, including two children, and 16 injured, including women, by the Houthi shelling,” Hasan Izzi, director of the health office in Taez, said on Friday.

Mr Izzi said the Houthi rebels continued to shell the eastern Al Rawdha district, which is held by government forces, on Friday morning but hospitals had received no fresh casualties.

Pro-government forces have pushed into eastern and northern Taez after breaking a months-long rebel siege of the city from the south-west last week. Fighters of the Popular Resistance and the Yemeni military are still fighting the rebels in those areas.

Mr Izzi said hospitals in Taez had started receiving medical supplies this week after the rebel blockade of the city was broken.

“The hospitals received oxygen cylinders, medicines and other supplies, and they will receive more batches from Aden in the coming days.”

The breaking of the siege in Taez was a major breakthrough for pro-government forces after months of fierce fighting during which the rebels, who are allied to forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, prevented aid from reaching the city and regularly shelled civilian areas.

The capital, Sanaa, remains under rebel control but the Saudi-led military coalition backing the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi said this week that major combat operations in the country were nearly complete.

Coalition spokesman Brig Gen Ahmed Al Assiri said the coalition would begin to reduce its forces and let the Yemeni fighters take charge of the war, while continuing to provide support.

Brig Gen Murad Turaiq, the Yemeni military commander in Marib and Al Bayda provinces, said the army had gained a lot of experience and could now lead the anti-rebel operations in Yemen.

“We have intelligence that the Houthis are now unable to achieve any military advance on ground and they will not continue to fight. Rather they will yield to a political solution,” Brig Gen Turaiq said.